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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Reviewing the Nikon Nikkor AFS 28-70mm f/2.8

An older lens for today. But make no mistake: this has been the workhorse for many Nikon professional photographers up until the AF-S 24-70mm showed up. As newer and newer models keep coming, the value of these bit older lenses drops in the used market. I got one for reviewing purposes for less than $600 (planning to sell it right after, I don't use midrange zooms), which is a steal for a pro-level f/2.8 midrange zoom with a focus motor. But let's take a closer look, to know what you should expect

Fast midrange zooms are awesome for all-around, low-light photography.
Visiting museums is an obvious application

+ superb resolution, almost corner-to-corner, even wide-open
+ tough, reliable, it can take a beating

+ fast and silent autofocus (thanks to the focus motor)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Get an Extra Stop from the Stabilization of Your Lens

Stabilizes lenses are awesome. Nikon calls it VR (from Vibration Reduction) for Nikkor lenses, Sigma calls it OS (Optical Stabilization), Tamron calls it VC (Vibration Compensation). It's all the same thing, and - as I'm sure most of you know - it's a mechanism inside the lens which absorbs micro-movements caused by hand-helding a lens. It's usually measured in "Stops" - for example, you might read that the VR of a lens offers you "4 stops" of latitude.

When you read that, it means that thanks to the optical stabilization of that particular lens, you can expect that you will need 4 less stops of shutter speed to get a sharp image, compared to what you would need without a VR.

VR can be the difference between a sharp image and a blurry one

It's easier to see with an example.

Let's assume that I'm using a focal length of 300mm on an FX camera. According to a long-standing guideline, you then need about 1/focal length as a minumun shutter speed to get a sharp image if you're shooting hand-held. In this case, then, you need 1/300 or faster (the closest actual setting on the camera is 1/320). This is where VR comes into play. Count 4 stops slower: 1/160, 1/80, 1/40, 1/20. Therefore, with VR on you should be able to get a sharp image at 1/20. Of course, this isn't an exact science - some hands are more shaky than others. This is only an average.

Sounds good, in any case, right? Would it not sound even better if I told you a trick with which you can get an extra stop? If so, then read on!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Review of the Nikon Series E 135mm f/2.8

I have reviewed several Series E lenses on AmateurNikon (check the reviews page for more) and my general impression of the Series E lenses is generally a very favorable one. Optically, at least the primes are very good. Mechanically they are a click below the Nikkor AI-S lenses, but when the comparison is with the modern plastic-is-fantastic things made in China, the E(conomy) lenses seem to be like a pretty decent deal. Today, I'm taking a look at the Nikon Series E 135mm f/2.8 lens.

On film, few would notice any flaws

+ Series E or not, it's sturdy and dependable mechanically.
+ Superb bokeh, great news for portraiture
+ Sharpness reasonably good wide-open, gets very good by f/4